Canadians avoiding hotel quarantines for air travellers fuel taxi boom on US border

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NEW YORK (REUTERS) – US taxi and limousine services are seeing a boom in business from customers seeking to enter Canada by land to avoid a restriction on international travel that applies only to air traffic.

While both Canadian land and air travellers are required to take a test within three days of departure, and again on arrival, only those flying to Canada must spend up to three days of the country’s 14-day required quarantine period in a hotel.

That has led to a surge of calls for taxi and limousine services from Canadians who fly through US airports in states like New York and then cross over the land border, representatives of four companies said.

“They call from six in the morning to 12 at night,” John Arnet, general manager of 716 Limousine in Buffalo, New York said.

“We’ve had so many requests for border crossings that we’re turning them down.”

The company now does more business driving Canadians to their homes in Ontario than with US clients.

A taxi trip across the border can cost around US$250 (S$332) compared with a three-day hotel stay of more than C$1,200 (S$1,278), Canadian travel insurance broker Martin Firestone said.

With the Canada-US land border mostly closed for more than a year due to the pandemic, and overall tourism down, the recent surge in business has come as a relief to some struggling taxi operators.

Mr Nick Boccio, general manager of Buffalo Limousines, said the Canadian clientele has helped the company bring back chauffeurs.

On Friday, Mr Boccio said the company gave nine different rides to Canadian passengers on just one flight from Florida.

Canada has imposed tough restrictions since the start of the pandemic, including a ban on most foreigners from entering the country. Canadians can fly out of the country and return either by land or air.

But concerns are mounting due to a surge in virus variants, with the once temporary hotel quarantine now mandatory for air travelers through late May, and a ban introduced this week on direct flights